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Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people not to eat meat on Monday. Since it began in 2003, the campaign has spread to 23 countries and has made positive impacts around the world.

Along with the campaign and other efforts by people all over the world, vegetarianism has become more mainstream. Part of the credit for this success is also due to politicians, public figures and leaders who have helped set a tone for a new country diet, making healthier eating choices more widely known to the public. Here are five leaders who have inspired a diet revolution.

1. Bill Clinton

In 2004, Bill Clinton decided to change his lifestyle for his health.

“I just decided that I was the high-risk person, and I didn’t want to fool with this anymore. And I wanted to live to be a grandfather,” Clinton explains, “So I decided to pick the diet that I thought would maximize my chances of long-term survival.”

He eats animal products like organic salmon or an omelet occasionally, but he avoids red meat, dairy and processed carbohydrate. His William J Clinton Foundation is committed to promoting healthier lifestyles.

2. Al Gore

The former vice president turned environmentalist and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner recently made the switch to a plant-based diet. The Humane Society of the United States’ Food Policy Director Matthew Prescott told the Washington Post that because of leaders like Gore going vegan, “it’s clear that the way we farm and eat is shifting toward a better model.”

3. Al Sharpton

Rev. Al Sharpton was once 305 pounds, but last year he told Matt Lauer on TODAY that he has gotten down to 138 pounds. He gave up meat, started watching his diet and exercised.

“A vegetarian diet has a way of absorbing the stress and gives you greater endurance,” he said, as quoted by “I don’t eat many starches or [refined] sugars. I just love greens and grains. I eat a lot of salad and fruits. I feel like a new, improved me.”

4. Michelle Obama

The First Lady developed the program Let’s Move in order to solve and raise awareness of the epidemic of childhood obesity, and linking it to the food system. Her effort has helped educate and raise a healthier generation of kids. While the movement doesn’t necessarily lead directly to veganism, it’s a start!

5. Jamie Oliver

British celebrity chef and health food advocate Jamie Oliver has educated many through his television show, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” Because of his series of ABC World Reports, pink slime was removed from many U.S. schools.

According to a Harris Interactive study commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, approximately 5 percent of the U.S. is vegetarian (close to 16 million people) and about half of these vegetarians are vegan. The influence of politicians and public figures have helped to raise awareness about plant-based diets.

Image source: advencap / Wikimedia Commons

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